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$100m Grand Theft Auto lawsuit threatens to become class action

Blood in the water

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Publisher Take-Two Interactive may face a class action from purported victims of the Grand Theft Auto games, as the family of a man killed by boys allegedly influenced by the game prepare to file a $100 million lawsuit.

As we reported earlier, the case arises from an incident where two boys, aged 16 and 14 years old, opened fire on vehicles on a highway with a .22 rifle, killing one man and injuring another person severely.

The family of the dead victim plans to sue Take-Two after the boys said that they were acting out something they had seen in their favourite videogame - Grand Theft Auto 3. Although specifics of the case have yet to be disclosed, reports suggest that the family will seek a massive $100 million in damages from the publisher.

The smell of blood - or money - always attracts more lawsuits, and the family's attorney, Jack Thompson, now believes that he has grounds to file a class action suit against the publisher which could include hundreds of other cases.

"We want to tell the video game industry that if they're going to continue to market adult-rated games to children with these horrific consequences, then we're going to take their blood money," Thompson thundered in a statement this week. "In the past few days I have been contacted by dozens of other people, and there may be hundreds more cases. This will send a message that they have to stop this practice or there will be other suits on behalf of other people, killed by these games."

Strong words, and one can almost hear the law firms salivating at the prospect of being able to prove that there has been a flood of crimes inspired by videogames. Just imagine all those rich media companies who produce videogames, ripe for the picking - and surely if you can sue Take-Two for publishing a game which killed people (note that Thompson is no longer even claiming that the game was just an influence or a factor), it should be possible to sue Best Buy, GameStop or Wal-Mart for selling it to the killer?

Interestingly, we've yet to see any sign of Thompson's righteous fury being turned upon the manufacturer of the rifle used in the killing, or indeed upon the parents of the boys - who must have been directly responsible for giving the children access to the M-rated game (the US equivalent of an 18 rating), the rifle and ammunition, and the unsupervised time in which to use them. Then again, gun manufacturers are a sacred cow in American politics and law, while the parents... Well, the parents don't have as much money as Take-Two. Which is what this all boils down to in the end, after all.

Copyright © 2003, Gamesinsdustry.biz

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